Awarded to Method4 Limited

Start date: Friday 1 October 2021
Value: £951,204
Company size: SME
Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Website development, support and maintenance

8 Incomplete applications

6 SME, 2 large

6 Completed applications

6 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Thursday 15 July 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 22 July 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 29 July 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Contracted out service: the off-payroll rules do not apply
Summary of the work
We are looking for a supplier to provide developer resource for:

Continuous improvement of existing website and associated services.

Development resource for additional projects

Website support and maintenance - this includes managing servers and deployment pipelines on Microsoft Azure.

Migration from Umbraco version 7 to version 8/9
Latest start date
Wednesday 1 September 2021
Expected contract length
2 years
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education
Budget range
Total 2 year contract budget is estimated to be up to £954,300.

About the work

Why the work is being done was launched in September 2017 and has been developed to support the delivery of a number of key Institute services and products to external and internal users. These include:

- Apprenticeship standards Finder
Provides users access to all versions of published apprenticeship standards

- Digitised occupational maps
Occupational Maps allow the user to view occupations across 15 routes and show where technical education can lead.

- Trailblazer Portal
Set of forms that allows Institute staff to collaborate with employer groups on proposed new apprenticeships or revisions of existing ones.

A number of APIs have been developed that share apprenticeship data with Institute systems and other upstream services.

Given its central role, we need to ensure that the website is properly maintained and that we continually develop it to meet the needs of our users.

Government plans for further improving technical education (as outlined in the recently published Skills White Paper) and, correspondingly, the expanding roles and responsibilities of the Institute, mean that we will also need to increase the remit of the website. This includes building new functionality to support the new Higher Technical Qualification (HTQ) approval process and, at a later date, the Post-16 qualifications approval process.
Problem to be solved
To provide development, support and maintenance resource for the Institute website. Specifically this includes (but is not limited to) bug fixes, small feature development, front-end improvements, server maintenance and larger development projects.

Develop the website functionality in line with the Digital Service Standards to ensure a great service is delivered to our users.

Ensure the Trailblazer portal meets the needs of the employer groups and Institute staff so that they can continue to develop, revise, and approve apprenticeships.

Ensure API development is carefully managed to limit impact on end users.

To ensure that we build functionality in the system to support the approval process for Apprenticeships, Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) and, later, for post-16 qualifications.

To ensure that the system is robust with servers and pipelines all following industry standards.

To ensure that an excellent and accessible service is available for users.
Who the users are and what they need to do

The website primary audience is employers, however it also contains information useful to wide range of audiences within the apprenticeship and technical qualification sector.

Specific users of the Trailblazer Portal

As a Trailblazer (TB), I need to develop an apprenticeship standard, so that I can obtain approval from the Institute and make the approved apprenticeship available to the market.

As a Product Manager (PM), I need to ensure TBs are kept engaged with the development and approvals process, so that apprenticeships and technical qualifications are developed and delivered to a high standard.

As a Reviewer, I need to collaborate with PMs and TBs on their submissions, so that apprenticeships are developed in line with current policy.

As an API user, I need to consume the latest Institute data, so the data on my upstream service is up to date
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The website has already been built, however continuous improvement to existing services and new features to support the approval processes and publication of content and products will be required.
Existing team
Website development is currently managed by the Digital Services team (5 staff) working closely with the Digital Communications team that manage content within the Institute. The Digital Services team manage the service/product development and create user stories for current supplier (approx. 3 developers) to deliver.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Remotely, suppliers offices or Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT
Working arrangements
This will be a 5 day per week (Monday to Friday between hours of 09:00 – 17:00) commitment for support and maintenance. Currently day to day delivery is governed by agile delivery techniques with backlog refinement, sprint planning, sprint review meetings fortnightly. The Product Owner and the Senior Digital Services Manager will be responsible for prioritising backlogs. We will not be responsible defining the tasks required for developers to deliver user stories. The supplier will manage their developer resource throughout the contract.
Security clearance
The level of clearance for this requirement is an Enhanced DBS and BPSS, suppliers who do not currently have this will not be excluded from the process however will be expected have upon contract start.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
The supplier must:

Complete a report on work achieved within a specific sprint/month.

Operate within an ISO9001 accredited Quality Management System.

Ensure resilience from their side to avoid a single point of failure.

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Practitioner in front-end development using HTML, CSS and Javascript to create responsive web design to WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards.
  • Practitioner in maintaining designing and developing new and potentially complex features in .NET systems and applications.
  • Practitioner in developing data/content collection tools, structuring forms in a user-friendly way.
  • Practitioner in migrating, integrating and updating website data from APIs and other sources.
  • Practitioner in Umbraco, including support, maintenance, training and upgrading to newer versions. Able to provide comprehensive support documentation (wikis etc) and reusable components (templates etc).
  • Practitioner in leading or supporting projects for discovery, UX design, development and build stages of digital services and websites conforming to Government Digital Service standards.
  • Practitioner in structural redevelopment and optimisation of user processes, including oversight and management of data interaction on complex webpages, forms and databases.
  • Practitioner in hosting, managing servers and deployment pipelines on Microsoft Azure.
  • Be an Umbraco partner, operating within ISO 9001 accredited quality management system and have obtained Cyber Essentials certification.
  • Practitioner in Loop Index plugins for TinyMCE (Lance and Flite).
  • Practitioner in building, developing, and maintaining secure APIs – leading on API documentation and adhering to a change control process.
  • Practitioner in working with non-technical users to describe technical solutions and agile processes in a simplified way, providing training where necessary.
Nice-to-have skills and experience

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Supplier to demonstrate skills of the proposed team who could be working on this contract (please list these skills with reference to the technical competence criteria specified).
  • Proposed approach to understanding the current website, services, database structure, codebase repository, data sources and connections to external digital services.
  • Proposed approach to providing maintenance, support and continuous improvement resource for the website and related digital services. Please include breakdown of total costs.
  • Proposed approach to providing additional resource for delivering development projects (please provide rate card).
  • Proposed approach to managing Azure servers and deployment pipelines.
  • Proposed approach to upgrading Umbraco CMS from v7 to v9 and breakdown of costs.
  • Proposed approach to identifying risks related to managing and developing the website service and how you would mitigate them.
  • How will your proposal will offer the Institute value for money.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work collaboratively with the Digital Services Team.
  • Be transparent when making decisions.
  • Take responsibility for the work carried out.
  • Can support clients with lower technical expertise.
  • Please demonstrate how your organisation supports educational attainment (relevant to this contract) for your own employees, including training schemes that address skills gaps and result in recognised qualifications.
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Is having ISO9001 accreditation a pre-requisite for applying for this opportunity? We can work to those quality standards for the project but do not currently have this accreditation.
Yes having ISO9001 accreditation is a prerequisite for this application.
2. The essential skills also mention leading or supporting projects for discovery and UX design. What level of demand is envisaged for these roles?
These types of requirements are dependent on the Institute’s priorities and resource (we do have a limited amount of design resources in house) but we may need to request these skills from the supplier for special projects. We envisage this would be requested with lead times of around a month or longer.
3. Can you clarify if the budget provided is Inc or Exc VAT.
The total budget excluding VAT is £935,050.
4. Please can you clarify who the incumbent is?
5. What is the existing testing regime and do you expect this to continue?
Currently testing is done manually by the developers, with a second test when reviewing PRs, and final user tests before a release. Moving forward we expect to introduce unit testing to support the existing processes.